BC grocery store hires security guard as anti-mask hostility rises

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A grocery store in the Kootenays has hired a security guard for the first time since it opened 45 years ago, but that’s not due to an increase in shoplifting.Since British Columbia provincial health worker Dr.Bonnie Henry ordered masks to be worn in all indoor public spaces last week, staff at Nelson’s Kootenay Co-op said they had seen a increase in the number of people refusing to wear a mask and becoming combative when told to do so.

The cooperative made masks mandatory for staff in June in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, but left it up to customers to decide whether they wanted to wear one.








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“When we made masks mandatory at the time, we started hearing a very vocal group of our members and customers who were very frustrated about it,” Managing Director Ari Derfel told Global News.

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Many people have expressed their opposition in a friendly and constructive manner, he added, but others have been confrontational and aggressive.

“Calling the staff and management by names like Nazis, Fascists and equating what we are doing to horrible atrocities against human rights,” he said.

When the provincial order on mandatory masks was announced last week, Derfel said they had to prevent people from entering the store if they refused to wear a mask when shopping.

“As soon as this became mandatory, a number of people started to get very loud, very loud, very aggressive again, often harassing our cashiers, harassing our hosts at the front of the store, trying to find their way into the store when we asked them to wear a mask and sometimes to just act in a threatening and aggressive manner.

He said some staff were brought to tears by aggressive customers.


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Peter Vella, a welcome at the co-op, told Global News that many customers tell him their rights are being violated and challenge him over the science behind how the masks work.

“I had people in front of me and now that we have another person here acting as a security guard – a real security guard – I leaned on them for help,” he said. he declared.

When Global News was filming inside the store on Tuesday, a man refused to wear his mask and was eventually escorted outside.

Drefel said he recognizes that everyone has a right to their own opinion, but that he does not have the right to take it off his staff or be abusive.

“I really wish they would get it and choose to be more caring and kind, regardless of their respective opinions,” he said.

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© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.



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